Data Privacy as a Strategic Competitive Advantage: a case study of how Apple and Facebook use data privacy in their branding process


  • MPGI

Área de conhecimento: 

  • Estratégias de Marketing


  • Rafael Ferreira Trindade




The growing number of data breaches in the world has brought the concern about Data Privacy to the mainstream media, raising the public awareness of the consequences of bad harvesting of personal data. Moreover, after the Europe Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), many companies started to change their positioning regarding data privacy. The objective of this study is to identify evidences that data privacy has been and can be used as a competitive advantage. Being a very recent topic, it has yet not been studied deeply in a business and branding point of view. Therefore, this study aims to raise the awareness of the managerial implication of the topic. Secondary data collected was used to build and analyze a case study of how Apple and Facebook have been handling data privacy and if this behavior consists a competitive advantage for them. Additionally, the Privacy Leverage Point Framework (Culnan and Armstrong, 1999) was used to identify if such companies were capable of leveraging data privacy as a competitive strategy. Also, each company was analyzed through the Brand Authenticity Framework (Fritz, Schoenmueller and Bruhn, 2017) in order to understand if their efforts with data privacy could be incorporated to their branding processes in a way that could be perceived as authentic to the consumers. This study found evidences that data privacy can and is already being used as a strategic competitive advantage, as it was seen in the Apple case. However, it is important to pay attention to the authenticity of the move. The brand map of the company must be able to incorporate this positioning attempt, otherwise, it can shift from a strategic competitive advantage to a strategic competitive disadvantage, as the Facebook’s case. Finally, since this study is limited to analyze company’s actions and communication pieces, a further study on the scenario thought the consumer’s point-of-view is suggested. It is needed to be understood if the privacy calculus and the brand authenticity framework are consistent across developed/developing markets and industry sectors.

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